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12                           BYZANTINE CHURCHES                      CHAP.
Bema.The bema is rectangular, and sometimes has concave niches on each side (p, 130). It is covered either with a barrel or with a cross-groined vault, and communicates with the prothesis and the diaconicon.
Prothesis and Diaconicon.These chambers are either square (p. 214) or have a long limb to the east resembling a miniature bema (p. 214). They are lower than the central apse and the cross arms, so that the cruciform figure of the church shows clearly above them on the exterior,1 though in some churches with galleries small chapels overlooking the bema are placed above them at the gallery level (S. Theodosia). They have usually a niche on three sides, and are either dome vaulted or have cross-groined vaults. The combination of a cross-groined vault with four niches springing from the vaulting level is particularly effective. In S. Saviour in the Chora (p. 307) these chambers are covered with drum domes, pierced with windows, but this treatment is quite exceptional
The Gynecaeum.In the development of church building, the gynecaeura, or gallery for women, tends to become less and less important. In S. Sophia, S. Irene, and S. Theodosia, the gallery is a part of the structure. In S. Mary Diaconissa (p. 1,85) it is reduced to four boxes at the angles of the cross, while in S. Mary Pammakaristos and SS. Peter and Mark it is absent (pp. 149, 193). But though no longer a structural part of the church, a gynecaeum appears over the narthex in the latest type of church (p. 215). It is generally vaulted in three bays, corresponding to the three bays of the narthex below, and opens by three arches into the centre cross arm of the church and into the aisles.
The Narthex.Unlike the gynecaeum, the narthex tends in later times to become of greater importance, and to add a narthex was a favourite method of increasing the size of a church. In basilican churches, like S. John of the Studion, the narthex was a long hall in three bays annexed to the west side of the building, and formed the east side of the atrium. In domed cross churches with galleries the passage under the western gallery was used as a narthex, being cut
1 See, however. North Church in S. Mary, Panachrantos, p. 128,